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The prize was founded by a bequest from Mrs Dorinda Gorman in memory of her husband, the distinguished Economist W M (Terence) Gorman, a Trinity College Dublin economics graduate of 1948.

It is awarded annually to the best student in the M.Sc. (Econ).

Adjudicated by the external examiners.

Recipients of Award

  • 2016 - Kevin Threadgold
  • 2015 - Brian Higgins
  • 2014 - Shared between Patrick Greene, Ingo Hanke and Emmet Kiberd
  • 2013 - Jason Somerville
  • 2012 - Christoph Walsh
  • 2011 - Shane Cahill
  • 2010 - Adnan Velic
  • 2009 - Mate Fodor
  • 2008 - Mark Ryan
  • 2007 - Shared between Laura Weymes and Peter Zimmerman
  • 2006 - Shared between Qi Li and Denis Tkachenko
  • 2005 - Tara Mitchell

WM (Terence) Gorman and his career

From The Irish Times, February 1, 2003

Probably the greatest Irish economist of his generation

Terence Gorman, who died in Oxford recently in his 80th year and whose generosity of spirit and absent-minded enthusiasms infected all who met him, was undoubtedly the greatest Irish economist of his generation.

Although his professional contributions were often forbiddingly technical, they were always driven by simple insights and down-to-earth questions. 'A penny bun costs thruppence if you've got a wife and a child' was, for example, a characteristic aphorism he used to motivate subtle analysis of household consumption behaviour. One of his most widely used and far-reaching theoretical insights was published in a paper with the disarming title: 'A possible procedure for analysing quality differentials in the egg market'.

Born William Gorman in Kesh, Co Fermanagh, in 1923, he spent part of his childhood in Rhodesia. He loved to recount how his African nanny, rejecting William as a not very Irish name, rechristened him Terence, by which he was thereafter universally known.

He graduated from Trinity College Dublin in economics in 1948 and in mathematics in 1949 and spent his career in the leading British university economics departments of the day: Birmingham in the 1950s, Oxford in the 1960s and again after he retired from a professorship at the London School of Economics in 1979. His position at the pinnacle of his profession is confirmed by his election to the presidency of the Econometric Society in 1972.

Terence was an enthusiastic mentor of graduate students, who appreciated his open invitation to a sherry party in his office after the weekly seminar. His ability to penetrate quickly to the heart of an argument made his participation in these seminars a delight to witness. Time and again he would gently and apologetically expose fatal flaws and hidden arbitrary assumptions in the presentations of visiting academics. Generations of his students thus learnt to develop and communicate a no-nonsense approach to reasoning and evidence.

His students however also complained that they could rarely understand his lectures. Unaware of the need to explain intermediate steps in his thinking and assuming the listener's grasp of the previous literature was as wide as his own, these lectures became something of a mystery tour. Perhaps he was aware of this and considered it no great flaw, as he was known to have pointed to a promising graduate student as having had the inestimable advantage of being poorly taught as an undergraduate and thus having had to think for himself.

Thinking for himself helped Terence to produce intellectual contributions which were fundamental and far-reaching in their application. In addition to those which had appeared over the years in the profession's leading journals, his Collected Papers, published in 1995, included many important articles which Terence had either regarded as too obvious to publish or left as incomplete drafts, which for years circulated influentially only in mimeographed form.

Much of his work reflected a determination to bridge the gap between theoretical descriptions of economic behaviour and the practical analysis of real-world data. Is it possible to talk about labour and capital when there are many different types of worker and of capital goods? Can aggregate national data be used to explain the behaviour of individuals? Can the degree of substitutability of some goods be measured without knowing the prices of other goods? These were some of the questions which he addressed and to which, in many cases, he provided the settled answers.

The 'egg' paper was the first to show how the relative price of a large number of similar but not identical goods could be analysed in terms of a few underlying unmeasured characteristics (such as taste, style, comfort), an insight which underpins much of the modern theory of financial asset pricing.

Much more than a lovable eccentric, Terence Gorman built, in his quiet way, the rigorous foundations of many of the most widely used analytical tools in economics today. Although little known to the public here, among his many honours were an honorary fellowship from TCD and an honorary doctorate from the NUI. He and his wife Dorinda, who survives him, retained strong links to Ireland, latterly spending part of the year in Co Cork.

W. M. Gorman: born June 17th, 1923, died January 12th, 2003